DEALGAN boxer Stephen Broadhurst is set to become the first Dundalk person to represent his country at the European Youth Boxing Championships next week.
After a tumultuous few months inside the ring for the Muirhevnamor teenager - he was beaten in the Irish Under-18 Championship Final after coming down with a virus – he will now get his chance to prove himself yet again in the Championships after initially thinking that he would miss out.
His father and coach, Tony Broadhurst said that after winning the Irish Youth Tournament in January, Stephen and co thought he was automatically selected for the Irish team for the European Championships.
“That did not turn out to be the case as it was revealed that the winner of the Irish Under-18 tournament was most likely going to be chosen as the representative for the country.”
Stephen entered the competition and made his way through the preliminary rounds, but four days before the final he was struck down with a virus.
“I was going to withdraw him from the tournament”, said Tony. “But we heard the winner was going to be the European Championship representative so we had to think twice.”
Stephen made it to the final, but he was still suffering with a bug that made him throw-up. The day of the final, he had to weigh-in and was 73.4kg on the scales.
“Normally before a fight, Stephen would be just over the 75kg mark. He would then weigh-in at 75kgs and go back up in weight before a fight, but he was well under come the final. He could not eat for days and was getting sick.”
It was no surprise that Stephen lost the final to Eddie Byrne of Wexford, which Tony thought had ended Stephen’s shot at the European Championships.
“It was tough. He got home that night and his weight was 72kg, meaning he dropped more weight that day. He gave it his all in the last round, but the first two, he could barely do anything as he had no energy.”
However, the boxer was offered a reprieve as it was revealed that a box-off would occur between the two finalists, with the winner getting the chance to represent Ireland at the Championships.
“The training in the next two months since that was tough. The virus took it out of Stephen. He was slow, lacked energy and lost some of his muscle. He had to bulk up in weight, which is difficult when you are in serious training.”
The night of the fight rematch with Byrne, Stephen managed to pull out the win on a scoreline of 12-10, despite not looking his best.
Now, the culmination of years of hard work will come down to a series of fights next week in Citywest Hotel in Dublin where the Championships are being held and Tony is hoping that Stephen can recapture the form that landed him the Irish Youth Tournament title earlier this year.
Tony said: “There’s a lot more to come from Stephen. The last two months he was not at his best because of the virus, but we are hoping for a bit of luck in the draw and that Stephen will show his talent in the competition and perhaps come out with a medal.”